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The hike from Kurama to Kibune is described in some guidebooks as “easy.” In a few others as “steep.”  There were just enough “easy “descriptions to tip the scales for me, thinking “I can do this!”

Time: 2 to 3 hours
Distance: 3.9km
Difficulty: easy
Start point: Kurama Station on the Eizan Train Line
Finish point: Kibune-guchi Station on the Eizan Train Line

Kurama and Kibune are two picturesque little villages in the Kitayama Mountains, a 30-minute scenic train trip out of Kyoto. On this hike, you walk from Kurama to Kibune via Kurama-dera Temple, a temple located atop the mountain between the two villages. If you want to get out of the city for a while and enjoy some beautiful hiking in the woods, this is the perfect trip.

The ease of getting to/from the hike is one of its main attractions. To get to the start of the hike, take the Eizan Line train that leaves from Demachiyanagi Station in Kyoto (which is, in turn, at the northern end of the Keihan Line, the line that runs along the Kamo-gawa River in Kyoto). Be sure to get on a Kurama-bound train and ride it all the way to the last stop, Kurama. At the end of the hike, you’ll board the same train line at Kibune-guchi Station and take it back to Demachiyanagi Station. Easy, peasy. Inside Kyoto

I did do it, but counted down the last five final steps as if I were on my way to the execution chamber.  In this case though, it meant I’d survived, hadn’t twisted my ankle, and would survive for another day.  My thighs told me, on a steep downhill step, that they were no longer willing or able to promise me any support.  The walking stick, given to me by a kind hiker who obviously decided I needed it more than she did,  was a life saver going downhill, but my shoulder pain from leaning on the stick, told me it wouldn’t do much more.

We passed many people on the trail, all doing better than I did, of course.  One jovial blonde woman, who looked as if she could take on Mt. Everest, cheerfully admitted to me she was from Austria.

This time we researched our route thoroughly before setting out.  We did not get lost, nor could we have.  We just had to walk up up up and then down down down, the uneven stone steps through the mountains to get to Kuruma.

Autumn has not arrived here.  The weather is now warm and humid enough to break a sweat quite easily.

We entered a green world. A typhoon had passed through not long ago, uprooting giant cypress trees like matchsticks.  The ground was littered with the aftermath.  The trail had been cleared.  Most of the wildflowers were done blooming, but the air was fresh and hopes high as we started out. New growth, post typhoon , was firmly established.

fungi on downed tree

The operative word here was s l o w l y.  I know if I take it easy, pause to recover my breath, I can do it.  People with young children passed us by.  Family groups with grandparents along passed us by.  Teen aged young men flew past us, their feet barely touching the ground, and their attitude declaring they were indestructible.    Women would look at me and ask if I was ok?  I couldn’t tell if they had kindness or pity in their eyes.  Maybe a bit of both. I reassured several fellow hikers that I was OK.  “Daijobu!” (OK)I called out to them.  “Gambatte!” (take heart.)  they said to me in return.

The Crest!

I felt immediately relieved when we reached the crest.  Danny reminded me that it’s generally more difficult going downhill than up.  Correct again.

Would I do it again?  Probably.  I did feel a bit of pride at having completed the hike.  I refused an out to dinner request from my husband, just too  damn tired. I wanted nothing more than to lay down.  KIndly, he made a quick run to the food basement of our nearby dep’t store and returned with warm and very tasty gyoza, shu mai, pork buns, and a yummy strawberry pudding.  I wolfed it down, then at 7:30 pm went to bed for the night.


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Doug Varone says:

    I was with you the whole way…. xoxo

  • I am truly your sister. I feel you’re pain. So proud of you.

  • Elaine T Nakashima says:

    What an absolute delight to read about, and as usual your photos are stunningly beautiful, Dianne. Now I’m inspired to look for that hike in Kyoto. Congrats, and
    Anata no kenkō ni
    much love,

    • devapnek says:

      I am so glad you like it, Elaine and very happy to learn from you that you’ll soone get a taste of what I’ve been yakking about! Please feel free to share. xoxo

  • Judi Wallner says:

    Bravo Dianne, you did it! That’s enough to have a real sense of accomplishment…man (woman) against the mountain ! Your work with your trainer has obviously paid off. So happy for you! Miss you and love you, Judi

    • devapnek says:

      Thanks, Judi. You’ve certainly never seemed to hesitate when a climb is in front of you! It was a good feeling to know I can do it, but I was relieved when it was over!!

  • Barbara Nimmo says:

    I need to read this – you are amazing Dianne 😘

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